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Future of AIDS response focus of UN General Assembly High Level Meeting

2011-06-07

Principal actors in the AIDS movement join world leaders at critical crossroads

NEW YORK, 7 June 2011—More than 3000 people will come together at the United Nations in New York tomorrow for the UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS. The meeting, which runs from 8-10 June, will provide an opportunity to take stock of the progress and challenges of the last 30 years and shape the future AIDS response.

The High Level Meeting on AIDS is taking place 10 years after the historic 2001 United Nations Special Session on HIV/AIDS, and the 2006 signing of the Political Declaration where UN Member States committed to moving towards universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. More than 30 Heads of State, Government and Vice Presidents are expected to attend the meeting which will include official plenary and five panel sessions along with 40 individual side events. On the final day of the High Level Meeting on AIDS, UN Member States are expected to adopt a declaration which will guide country responses to HIV over the next five years.

The opening and closing plenary sessions will be presided over by Joseph Deiss, President of the United Nations General Assembly. He said, “The momentum around this meeting is unprecedented and promises to make this an historic event. We are looking to UN Member States to make bold commitments which will help us reach our shared goal of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.”

Although some countries are still struggling to reach their universal access targets, many have made significant strides in responding to their epidemics. Twenty-two countries have achieved universal access to services which prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

As well as country-led successes, considerable progress has been made in the global response to HIV since the 2001 UN Special Session on HIV/AIDS. The rate of new HIV infections has decreased by 25% in the last 10 years, deaths have reduced by 20% in the last 5 years and 6.6 million people are now accessing antiretroviral therapy, compared to just a few thousand in 2001. Progress has also been made in breaking down barriers to stigma and discrimination and in removing punitive laws such as travel restrictions for people living with HIV.

“Inequity, discrimination and laws against people living with or at risk of HIV continue to block access to HIV services for people most in need,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). “We need a response to HIV that is grounded in human rights and one which promotes equality and equity. Achieving this will open the way to a world free from HIV.”

UNAIDS recently reported that despite successes in HIV prevention and treatment, more people than ever before were living with the virus, 34 million according to latest estimates. They also reported that international funding for AIDS had declined.

“If resources go down—people most in need will suffer,” said Tetyana Afanasiadi, Human Rights activist from Ukraine. "The lives of millions of people directly depend on the resources allocated. Today I am alive thanks to antiretroviral therapy and opioid substitution therapy which I had access to through prevention and support programmes. Reducing of the resources allocated to those programs is a direct threat for me and for millions of people around the world."

The High Level Meeting on AIDS is taking place from the 8-10 June at the United Nations in New York. It will bring together UN Member States, International Organisations, Civil Society, people living with HIV and public and private sector partners.

For more information and to see the full program and access feature stories, webcasts, videos, media information and related documents please visit the official website at: http://www.un.org/en/ga/aidsmeeting2011/

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About UNICEF:
UNICEF is the world's leading child-focused humanitarian and development agency. Through innovative programs and advocacy work, we save children's lives and secure their rights in virtually every country. Our global reach, unparalleled influence on policymakers, and diverse partnerships make us an instrumental force in shaping a world in which no child dies of a preventable cause. UNICEF is entirely supported by voluntary donations and helps all children, regardless of race, religion or politics. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.

About UNAIDS:
UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, is an innovative United Nations partnership that leads and inspires the world in achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.  www.unaids.org

 

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.